Sometimes I anger myself because I can read something a hundred times and still not be able to really feel that I understand what I have read. I finally realized that the harder I try to grasp a concept, the more elusive it becomes. Yet, if I calmly put the question to my higher self, and then let it go, at some point the answer will come to me in a clear and easily understood manner.
This is the way it has been for me with the concept of enlightenment. I have read books, articles, and listened to so many lectures yet, it still eluded me. Last night I was reading the words of Lao Tsu, and although they used words like the Way and the Sage, it felt to me, as the though they still referring to the same concept as enlightenment.
At four twenty six a.m., I woke up; or at least it felt as though I was awake. In fact, I really believe that I was having a lucid dream. As I lay there in a place somewhere between being asleep and being awake I heard these words in my head, “The truth comes between thoughts, like during the times like this, between waking and sleeping. Whether one calls it flow, inaction, or being present, it is not trying, just being. One cannot seek enlightenment; it would be seeking what is not missing. To be enlightened we must simply be, and in the stillness of being the light within will shine and we will see. It is that seeing that is enlightenment”. Then shortly after I heard, “It is through the process of doing ordinary things that we brush up against the extraordinary”. I reached for a piece of paper to try and scribble down what I was hearing, because I knew that it would dissolve just as a dream dissolves into consciousness when we awaken.
Just then, I felt the enormity of NOW. It was as if time stood still. I felt as though I had slipped between words, literally I felt that there were words on either side of me and yet, they were at the same time an eternity away. I was in a void, there was neither a sight, nor a sound, but I was a part of everything, everything that has been, everything that could or will ever be, all the knowledge that could ever exist, and most of all – all of the unconditional love that could be experienced. I was in a place that felt older than eternity, and larger and deeper than outer space. I could sense that the things that we consider to be the real world were as substantive as a sheet of tissue paper floating in the eternal ether. We rely on words to manifest our world, but what is real, is what the words are attempting, with their limited ability, to describe.
What is enlightenment? I don’t know if it really can be described, but who cares whether it can or not? What I can say is that there are no requirements to experiencing it, except the willingness to be still in our minds. We spend so much time thinking about the road ahead and the road behind, punishing ourselves or blaming others for the past, and working so hard to guarantee the future. We completely overlook the opportunity to experience now. When the mind is full of thoughts, worries, expectations, plans and just plain noise, it is too full to receive light. It is that simple, one does not have to have credentials, nor does one have to be a highly evolved Master, we only have to be willing to let go and be.
In my search to understand the meaning of enlightenment, I realized that I only wanted to understand the means of attaining it. In all honesty I am not, at least not yet, a person who has mastered meditation. There are an average of fifty thousand thoughts that pass through the normal brain in a day. When we meditate, we do different exercises to still our minds and stop all of the noise that is in our heads. And so meditation is one possible way to reach that point of stillness, that point of being in which light can be received and enlightenment can be achieved. I myself, really don’t think very much, what I mean is that random worries, or plans, or whatever makes up those fifty thousand thoughts rarely enter my head, except, when I meditate. Most of the time, my mind is rather still or occupied with where I am and what I am doing. And so, when I try to still the noise that isn’t there in the first place I create noise that prevents me from meditating.
For people who are like me, absorption works much better than meditation. I allow myself to become fully absorbed in whatever I am doing, and in that process there are no extraneous thoughts filling my head. I remain, for the most part, an open channel. If I space out, or drift off, it is not to a thought; I am simply opening up more in that moment for whatever might come through. I am constantly receiving light, such as the light that becomes information. I know that it is from a source other than my own mind because it really has little relevance to my own life in any personal way. Or, if a thought comes to me that does have a personal relevance, I am shown how my personal situation plays out in a much broader picture that would be relevant to others as well as myself.
Enlightenment is something like slipping through a crack in time and space. And I believe that it is something that everyone can attain or at least glimpse in their lifetimes. But it is not something we can find by seeking. We have to be at the right place at the right time. That place is in the present and the time is God’s time. It isn’t something that we can find, or a place that we can plan to be at a certain hour every day, because our hour may not fit into God’s schedule. So, if we seek enlightenment, the best way to guarantee that we will receive it is to always be ready. That means, always being present in the moment, in the world and in the task that we are immediately involved in.
Because I wanted so much to experience enlightenment, I forgot what I had learned about asking and then letting go. The way we release a letter when we put it into the mailbox or hit the send button for e-mail. I had heard so many people tell me stories about their beautiful experiences during meditation. I wanted to go there so badly that it hurt. Then one night I told God that I surrendered to never seeing Nirvana. I would be fine, being like Moses who never entered the Promises Land. I resigned myself to the fact that it would not happen for me in this lifetime. And that was the night I went to sleep and found what I had been sleeping at 4:26 am. Not only did I then experience it, I learned that we all could. Enlightenment is only seeing it is having a light shown on what is right there. When Jesus said, “Seek and ye shall find”, what did it mean? There is a sense of being lost in seeking, isn’t there? No one would seek anything if they knew where it was.
The answer that we find when we become enlightened is that there is no answer only a beautiful living Mystery. The answer to that mystery is on the horizon, which represents the end of our journey. The horizon is there regardless of the path that we travel or the direction that we choose. With every step we are awakening, with every moment we are becoming. Enlightenment comes when we let go of believing that we know. To be enlightened is to embrace the possibilities that live within the Mystery. There is only one certainty and that is that one need not know what the Light is to feel the all encompassing Love the flows within it. We need only seek to grow in Love, to be freed from the darkness, to be enlightened.